Crews out repairing those pothole problems

KELOLAND.com Original
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Crews out filling potholes on Monday are expected to be out the rest of this week, said Dustin Hansen, the street manager for the city of Sioux Falls.

Hansen said one crew was out Monday and three crews would be out repairing potholes for the remainder of the week.

Wet weather and freezing, then thawing, temperatures are ideal conditions for potholes to pop up, he said.

“It’s a combination of two things. The freezing and thawing and liquid and traffic going up and down the street,” Hansen said.

Water can seep into cracks in pavement and get trapped. When it freezes and thaws, that moisture can lift and crack pavement. Add traffic driving on that pavement and potholes will appear.

Older streets with wear and tear and high traffic streets can be vulnerable for potholes, Hansen said.

The city has at least two different ways for drivers to report potholes. The city has a pothole hotline at 605-367-8255 and a mobile phone app that drivers can use to report potholes.

Hansen said 12 potholes were reported on Jan. 24, 38 on Jan. 23 and 14 on Jan. 22.

Pothole near E13th Street and S Main Avenue in Sioux Falls | Jan. 2020

Those potholes can cause vehicle damage.

A 2016 survey by AAA said that over a five-year period, drivers reported on average $300 to fix pothole damage to their vehicles. AAA said some repairs can cost more than $1,000.

The same study said drivers spent about $3 billion annually or $16 billion over five years to fix pothole damage.

Hansen said his department is as responsive as it can be to reports of potholes.

In 2019, “we had somewhere around 30 a day. We had crews complete (filling) 15 of those a day or 100 a day,” Hansen said.

Just as weather impacts a pothole, it also impacts filling that pothole.

Some pothole-fill mixtures don’t work well when it’s below zero or 10 or 15 degrees, he said.

But the city tries to fill as many potholes as possible during the winter, Hansen said.

The city may use recycled asphalt it saves when a street is torn up. Leftover asphalt mix can also be re-heated and used to fill potholes, Hansen said. Leftover asphalt mix can break into chunks when it is loosened, which is one downside of that fill, he said.

The city also uses a mix with a higher concentration of oil. “It will hold up fairly well. If it does break out, it crumbles, which is good,” Hansen said.

The city also uses a product called Aquaphalt.

“You can buy it in bulk but we just get in in five-gallon pails, because it’s expensive,” Hansen said.

The product uses water so it’s good to use when it’s raining, Hansen said.

The city’s hot mix plants aren’t operating in the winter so a true hot mix material can’t be used until after winter ends, Hansen said.

Filling potholes during the winter does reduce the rate at which that repair will retain, according to Hansen and a 2018 study by the University of Minnesota for the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

The retention rate during winter is about 30 to 50% compared to spring, summer and fall repairs which have a retention rate of about 90%, Hansen said.

According to the MnDOT study, materials used for pothole repairs in the winter are more vulnerable to thawing and freezing. While materials are available for better repairs in winter, those are expensive and require specialized equipment and training, according to the study.

The MnDOT study said pothole repairs performed in late spring and summer with hot mix asphalt are the most durable and may last for more than one winter season.

Fixing potholes is not cheap, according to the American Public Works Association.

An APWA fact sheet said the city of Columbus, Ohio, spent $175,578 for the hot and cold mix asphalt patch material to patch 130,397 potholes in 2012. The city of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, spends about $1 million each year to fill potholes, according to the APWA fact sheet.

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